New vaccine strategy reduces risk of flu infections in cancer patients

29 June, 2016

A recent study has found that administering a high-dose flu vaccine followed by a second high-dose booster shot one month later can reduce the risk of influenza in cancer patients at the highest risk of infection.

The new vaccine strategy was presented by a team from the Yale Cancer Center at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Patients with cancers of the immune system, such as multiple myeloma, are particularly susceptible to infection. Previous studies have suggested that a single, annual dose of the vaccine does not provoke a sufficient immune response to provide protection.

For the patients included in the study, the predicted infection rate after the single-dose vaccine was 20%. However, the influenza infection rate was 6% in those who received the two, higher doses. The research team is now conducting a larger, prospective randomised trial to further analyse the effectiveness of the strategy during the 2015–16 influenza season.

The study’s first author, Dr Andrew Branagan, said: "Using an approved flu vaccine in a novel dosing schedule yielded promising results for a group of patients at high risk for infection… We suspect this strategy could benefit other cancer patient populations."

Further details on the conference website.